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Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug Hardcover – December 31, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0807832295 ISBN-10: 0807832294 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (December 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807832294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807832295
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,037,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


An indispensable point of departure for serious students of [the history of the cocaine trade].--The Latin American Review of Books

A sophisticated analysis of cocaine commodity chains and public policy based on extensive archival research and a firm grasp of Peruvian history. The book should stand as the standard economic history of Andean cocaine for years to come.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

The anti-cocainism that arose in the United States transformed cocaine into a global threat in the first part of the 20th century. . . . This huge work untangles the multiple mechanisms of cocaine's social, local, and global construction, which transmuted a medical drug and commodity into a world menace with a war declared against it.Gootenberg has written a history that will make history.--European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

A truly fascinating and important book. . . .The role of coca and cocaine in Andean development is given a treatment which it is rarely accorded.--Journal of Latin American studies

Unquestionably the single most important volume on cocaine's international history, richly documented, and conceptually exciting. . . . Deserves a very wide audience, and will hopefully spark similar efforts in the drug and alcohol field.--Social History of Drugs and Alcohol

An outstanding contribution to the history of narcotics and to the new global history….Andean Cocaine expands our knowledge of the commodity chain and global markets….[It] is an essential work for any scholar or student of the histories of narcotics, Latin America, and economics.--H-Net Reviews

Thorough, eminently readable, and fascinating. . . . This tour de force illustrates how a fresh, insightful focus on a single commodity can illuminate economic development, political and social concerns, shifting ideologies, and cultural change, both locally and globally. Highly recommended.--Choice

A well-written and thoroughly-researched study. . . . The impressive array of sources and new interpretations of the role of cocaine in Peruvian and global histories make this a must-read for scholars in a number of fields, including Latin American history and politics, global and comparative histories, and cultural and economic studies. Gootenberg makes important contributions to the study of drug history in general, and the history of cocaine in particular, by placing the coca plant and cocaine in a global perspective while still maintaining a focus on the local context.--Journal of World History

This excellent book adds a definitive archive-based history of cocaine. . . . A model of how to examine a particular drug substance in a specific part of the world while placing that examination in the broadest context.--Society & History

An outstanding book, a superb example of first-rate scholarship written with energy, confidence, respect for facts, and excellent style. In addition it is a readable, fascinating, and important story. . . . It ranks among the very best contributions to several literatures and will be valued by those interested in globalization, development, and economic and business history, as well as anyone simply curious to understand the world.--American Historical Review

Excellent. . . . Gootenberg offers a critical perspective on the place of cocaine in the Western imaginary and in the real political and economic world.--Comparative Studies in Society and Culture

Puts the discussion into a global perspective. . . . Gootenberg thus joins a distinguished group of scholars. . . . Indispensable reading for graduate seminars on economic, cultural, and social history, and shall appeal not only to experts on Latin America but also to world historians and those interested in comparative history.--The Americas

[An] exceptionally well-researched and sophisticated world history of cocaine. . . . A provocative, wide-ranging, and convincing account.--The Historian

A great deal of new information . . . that will excite scholars and lay readers alike. . . . An exceptionally strong piece of scholarship. It advances social scientists' understanding of the developmental trajectory [of] cocaine, and by extension, other luxury goods, while underscoring the value of this method of inquiry in understanding the emergence and maturation of commodities in a global political economy.--Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

An important study indispensable to understanding a vexing social dilemma that affects the US and Latin America.--Abstracts of Public Administration, Development, and Environment

A sterling contribution to the literature of cocaine, and should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand cocaine in context.--Drug War Chronicle

The book transcends mere macro-economic analysis by highlighting the agentive dimension of people on the ground. . . . With a keen eye for documenting the socio-economic, political, and cultural structures triggering the reformulation of cocaine into an illicit commodity.--ID: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs

The research that went into [Andean Cocaine] shows inspiration, dogged persistence, and a meticulous eye for detail.--Journal of Historical Geography

A book of great insight and academic rigor . . . that unearths this forgotten history.--Caretas

A truly fascinating and important book.--Journal of Latin American Studies


This is a scrupulously detailed historical account of both the coca leaf and cocaine as global commodities. It argues convincingly that most attempts to stamp them out have proved counterproductive, ignoring both the enormous differences between coca and cocaine, and the ancient history of coca leaf use by indigenous Andean peoples. A thoughtful contribution to the growing literature on commodity chains.--Sidney W. Mintz, author of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By RMC on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
At the beginning of Andean Cocaine, author Paul Gootenberg sheepishly admits that his current field of study has been met with some gentle teasing on behalf of his colleagues. As Gootenberg is an academic whose previous research focused on the economics of Peruvian bat guano, one can imagine how his investigation into the origins of the cocaine trade might be dismissed as a pop curiosity. Dozens of books have been published about the global coke industry; more often than not they focus on the more salacious, sexy or violent elements of the business. Andean Cocaine is the rare book about drugs that acknowledges, but gracefully transcends, cultural and moral interpretations of these medicines and recreational hazards.

The author's experience with economics and historical methodology sets the foundation for a centuries' worth of research. Gootenberg follows cocaine from its birth as a revolutionary surgical tool and cure-all-tonic, to the backlash that inspired an international ban, and ultimately how these factors combined to ignite the gargantuan syndicates of illicit production and distribution. Along the way, the infamous white powder was touched by icons of world history. Sigmund Freud, the Coca-Cola Company, and of course governments and pharmaceutical empires all play roles in the story, even before the arrival of the criminal cartels that provoked (or perhaps, were created because of) a multi-billion dollar world war of prohibition.

Andean Cocaine is exhaustively researched, yet it's written with enough spring to keep the history alive and relevant. The book should be regarded as one of the definitive documents in the genre of drug histories, and it is irreplaceable in telling the particular under-explored history of cocaine. How the stimulant has shaped world history is significant, surprising, and makes for a good read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
An interesting account of the development of the modern cocaine trade. The author is a specialist on South American economic history, focuses on events in Peru, and this is very much the story of the up and downs of cocaine as an international commodity. As Gootenberg points out, use of coca leaves was deeply and widely embedded in Andean culture. As he also points out, widespread, commercial cultivation of coca occurred under the Spanish Empire to supply the needs of indigenous miners in the great Peruvian silver mines. In the early 19th century, these traditional uses became enmeshed in the expanding and increasingly scientific European economy. Increasingly sophisticated chemistry allowed the isolation of the key constituents of several natural products, quinine from cinchona bark, morphine from opium, and cocaine from coca. A combination of international interest in coca, exemplified by Vin Mariani in France and Coca Cola in the USA, and the ability to isolate cocaine for medicinal and recreational uses, led to interest in Peru in developing a major, indigenous coca-cocaine industry projected eventually to be the equivalent of coffee or tea. This led to expansion and increased commercialization of coca production in Peru, and the discovery of a simple way to make semi-purified cocaine by the Franco-Peruvian pharmacist Alfredo Bignon. By about 1905, coca and semi-pure cocaine were major Peruvian exports. The nascent Peruvian dream of coca/cocaine production as a major Peruvian industry eroded as the USA became hostile to coca and cocaine, major competing plantation operations were developed in Java and Taiwan, and the native Peruvian industry remained fixed at a low technological level.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By aluna on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides a fantastic foundation for orienting oneself with the history of coca and cocaine, via its development, demise, and illicitness. The amount of detail and research put into the text is impressive in its unique and comprehensive nature. This text definitely brings new information to the table that most books about cocaine either ignore, confuse, or have a complete ignorance of the topic.

That being said, brace yourself for some repetitiveness. While the Tolken-like details are amazing the first time around, they are repeated again and again in every chapter in which they might apply. Each chapter was written as if it was its own individual essay, which is great if selective chapters are referenced in a classroom setting. However, taken as a whole, the book is circular in nature, causing the reader to sometimes lose track of the purpose behind all the detail.

In addition to the repetitive writing style, the author occasionally makes rather "snarky" comments about anti-drug policy, especially in the case of American drug policy. This lends the voice of the text to be apologetic in nature, as if the author is embarrassed that his country has taken such a stance on drug policy. While this would not be a problem if the author had stated that this was part of his intention in writing the text, he provides no other explanations of his motives than to provide a wealth of information about the subject (supposedly objective in nature). Therefore, these comments appear inappropriate and out of place in a book that is positioned to be an encyclopedia-like reference of coca and cocaine.
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